apocalypse

Review: Long Lost Song, Stephen C Ormsby

This review is part of the Discover Aussie Fantasy feature, running during July on The Oaken Bookcase. You can find details of the feature and enter the giveaway on the Aussie Fantasy page!


Long Lost SongLong Lost Song (Goodreads)
Author: flag_aus Stephen C Ormsby (website)

Rating: ★★★★☆

A virus is decimating America today and Michael Decker is the culprit. Or is he? Is it the work of a curse recorded into a song by 1930’s blues musician Ricky Jensen?

Long Lost Song tells the story of Ricky and Michael as they battle their personal and real demons while the world reaches end times of biblical proportions. One question remains. How do you stop a devil of a song made to break a crossroads deal?

Details

Series: Stand alone (for now)
Genre: Adult Paranormal Thriller
Published: Mythos Press, 2013
Pages: 244 (large format paperback)

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies:  Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble • Bookworld (epub)

Review

Long Lost Song is a modern take on the Faustian “selling one’s soul to the Devil” story. The story starts with the young musician Ricky Jensen, making a deal with the Devil in exchange for musical success. Ricky’s story of the 1930s is woven in and out with other stories from the present day, in which the retired rock musician Michael Decker is pulled from his quiet home in rural Victoria and convinced to travel back into the industry in the USA.

Meanwhile, a terrible pandemic has struck in both the US and Australia, spread by one of Ricky Jensen’s old recordings recently uncovered and spread like a virus via the internet and radio. Listening to the original track will kill outright, but watered-down remixes merely mind-control the listener so that the song can be spread further. Soon the whole world will be infected or dead, ready for the Devil’s final showdown. Michael is the only one who can stop the song’s spread, but he is being framed by the enemy as the instigator of the deadly virus, and he has no idea why he is suddenly America’s Most Wanted.

With plenty of unexpected turns, Long Lost Song is a story of the “end times” with a musical twist. There’s plenty of American and Australian music and pop culture references throughout and it’s clear that Stephen Ormsby must have an extensive playlist!

The pace stays high through the story – Michael gets more and more terrified the deeper he finds himself, and although the reader knows what’s going on with the song and its viral spread, most of the characters have no idea what’s really happening until right at the end of the story. This creates an air of fear and impending doom throughout – it’s very exciting storytelling and I found it difficult to put the book down. The jumping around between points of view (sometimes several times within a chapter) can get a little overwhelming and hard to keep up with at times, but each section helps to flesh out how the song is affecting people around the world.

The final chapter is very exciting and leaves plenty of opportunity for a sequel. Do you like the idea of a  fast-paced thriller with a rockin’ twist? Give Long Lost Song a try.

Warnings: Graphic violence including torture, sexual situations

About the Author

Stephen C OrmsbyStephen C Ormsby was an IT professional for twenty years before deciding to lead a more creative life. He has always loved the idea of writing novels and had written four when Long Lost Song came along, demanding to be published.

2013 looks to be a busy year with potentially three books coming out.

He lives in South Gippsland with his wife, two children and a mad cat named Smudge. He has travelled extensively, is an avid reader and enjoys listening to a wide range of music. He also plays guitar really badly.

(Bio paraphrased from Goodreads)

Review: The 5th Wave, Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave (Goodreads)
Author: flag_usa Rick Yancey (website)

Rating: ★★★★☆

The 1st Wave took out half a million people. The 2nd Wave put that number to shame. The 3rd Wave lasted a little longer, twelve weeks… four billion dead. In the 4th Wave, you can’t trust that people are still people. And the 5th Wave? No one knows. But it’s coming.

On a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Details

Series: The Fifth Wave #1
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Science fiction
Published: Penguin, May 7, 2013
Pages: 460
My copy: via the publisher

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies:  Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble

Read a preview for free here, or for kindle you can get the sample for free from Amazon.

Review

Cassie is all alone, hiding in the forest. Her father was so excited about the “visitors” arriving, but now her parents are dead, most of the human population wiped out and her five-year-old brother has been taken away by soldiers. She promised she’d find him and look after him, but the military base is far away and impenetrable. How will she get there and find Sammy if she can’t trust anyone to be human?

The 5th Wave is a raw and rather heartbreaking story of just how things could play out in an apocalyptic situation. When you can’t even trust your fellow humans not to kill you on sight, or even to not be an alien in disguise, how are you supposed to survive?

When I finished this book I gave it five stars right away, but after a bit of consideration I decided to downgrade it to four stars instead. Let me see if I can describe why in a coherent way.

What I loved

  • The premise – alien invasion! I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually read a book about aliens invading Earth but wow, it’s scary stuff to consider! Power lost, world thrown into confusion and people dying from a horrible disease left, right and centre – and people losing their families, not just to the invasion, but to other humans fighting to survive. It’s heartbreaking, and terrifying, and makes a cracker of a story. 
  • The action – the action scenes are edge-of-your-seat tense. I couldn’t stop reading because I was terrified that anyone could die at any moment!
  • Evan – such a tortured character! I won’t say more in the interest of spoiler avoidance, but wow, that guy is two parts creepy and one part sweetheart.

What I didn’t like so much

  • There’s a love triangle. Okay, so there’s only a whiff of one, but I have a nasty feeling it’s going to come back to bite in the next book. I know Cassie is only sixteen, but her behaviour towards Evan is incredibly hot and cold. Even after she finds out the truth about him she’s still torn as to whether she’s in or out. Then when Ben’s back on the scene, after all they’ve been through, it turns out she’s still a bit giddy. Okay, old lady alert – I’m sure there are those who love it.
  • Young children in combat. The children are the future, yes. They are also the most impressionable and easily indoctrinated to fight against the invaders. But seriously, anyone under 10 is not going to be able to perform in a combat situation. Also, these kids have just been through harrowing disasters in which they lost their entire families and homes. Is it really a good idea to arm them and place the future of the world in their hands?

After all that, I think I liked Cassie but I didn’t love her. She’s incredibly determined and resourceful, but at the same time is often a very terrified teenager. I guess I just couldn’t get past the part where she meets Evan (“Omg, saved by a guy I’ve never met before and shouldn’t trust, but he’s SO HOT!”).

I found The 5th Wave to be a very tense and exhilarating read. I’ll look forward to seeing what the future brings for the world, as soon as I pop down to the shops and stock up on canned food and water!

Warnings: Strong violence.

What did others think of The 5th Wave?

  • “It’s the kind of fast-paced and compelling read that will grab teen readers and leave them wanting more.” – Lost in a Great Book
  • “This book was so crazily addictive that I read it in literally half a day, and several months afterwards I am still jazzed over its edge-of-your-seat action.” – The Midnight Garden – Enter the giveaway!
  • “Think of a character in apocalyptic movies that you would hang with to survive, Cassie is that person. She is Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead. Well, you know what I mean.” – Novels on the Run

Review: Talisman of El, Alecia Stone

Talisman of El, Alecia Stone

Title: Talisman of El (Goodreads)

Author:  Alecia Stone (@Alecia_Stone)

Rating: ★★★☆☆

When 14-year-old Char­lie Blake wakes up sweat­ing and gasp­ing for air in the mid­dle of the night, he knows it is hap­pen­ing again. This time he wit­nesses a bru­tal mur­der. He’s afraid to tell any­one. No one would believe him … because it was a dream. Just like the one he had four years ago – the day before his dad died.

Details

Series: Talisman of El #1 of 3
Genre: Middle-grade/Young Adult Fantasy/Mythology
Published: Centrinian Publishing, May 20, 2012.
Pages
(hardcover): 364
My copy: Digital ARC from Netgalley

Paper copies: Amazon.com (hardcover) • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble

Review

Charlie is a fourteen-year-old orphan who has just moved into a new foster home. His sleep is plagued by strange dreams, but things start to get really strange when he finds out that the events of his dreams have actually happened. The story draws Charlie and his friends into a strange underground world populated by angels, elementals and demons and sets him on the path towards finding out who he is and why he has these strange dreams.

Talisman of El has an amazing premise – a returned King set to restore an ancient amulet and to save mankind from destruction. The exciting and dramatic scenes are great, and the plight of the orphaned boys really pulls at the heartstrings. Unfortunately, there was just something about the story that prevented it from being the epic read that it sounded like it could have been.

The main problem I have with Talisman of El is that there is a lot of detail. The mythologies that Charlie, Derkein, Alex and Richmond encounter are very complicated and terminology is thrown out all over the place. I had to keep going back in the story to check descriptions to keep up with what was going on, and that’s not so easy on a Kindle. I’m just a little concerned that younger readers will have trouble following all the ins and outs of the worlds, the elements, the angels and all the systems described.

I’m not sure if it’s the amount of explanation, but the story didn’t flow well for me. The story sometimes jumped forwards in time within the same chapter, as though a few minutes of the story had been cut out. This wasn’t made easier to deal with by a few formatting issues in the Digital ARC I read, but occasionally I was confused as to what just happened and had to go back and check.

Despite these issues, Talisman of El was an exciting read and a great debut for Alecia Stone. I will be interested to see how Charlie’s story continues in the next part of the series.

No warnings: It’s squeaky clean.

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